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Ecopro Charts Ambitious Growth Path with Seoul Move and $5.39bn Investment Drive

As announced on May 31, Ecopro, the South Korean raw materials group, has relocated its strategic planning operations from Ochang, North Chungcheong Province, to the upscale Gangnam district of Seoul. The move involved approximately 100 executives and personnel from its management planning and financial planning divisions under the Strategic Planning Headquarters.

The relocated Strategic Planning Headquarters are tasked with guiding the business trajectory of the Ecopro Group, which comprises subsidiaries such as Ecopro Materials, Ecopro BM (a cathode material manufacturer), Ecopro Innovation (specialised in lithium), Ecopro AP (gas and chemicals), and Ecopro CNG (engaged in waste battery recycling). These businesses, responsible for producing the precursors for cathode materials, must now collaborate and coalesce in the capital.

Ecopro’s move to Seoul, away from its previous split-headquarters model between Ochang and the Pohang campus, may have been fuelled by a need for greater access to clients and a wider talent pool. Analysts believe the relocation might be in response to limited office space in the Ochang headquarters. Since 2022, the number of executives and employees at Ecopro has ballooned from 69 to 130 in the first quarter of 2023.

The decision likely echoes the ambition of CEO Song Ho-joon, an alumnus of prestigious global consulting firms like PWC and Accenture and a former strategic expert at Samsung SDI.

The relocation coincides with a year of substantial investment for Ecopro BM, a subsidiary set to receive 1.4 trillion won ($1.078 billion) in funding, doubling the previous year’s input. The company aims to channel approximately 7 trillion won ($5.39 billion) from 2023 to 2027. In light of the US Inflation Reduction Act reclassifying cathode materials as minerals instead of components, the company is recalibrating its North American investment strategy, with a preference for domestic projects.

Ecopro is also gearing up to manufacture ‘NCMX’ – a novel amalgamation of nickel, cobalt, manganese, and additives. It’s also preparing for the production of single crystal cathode materials. Observers predict that, like its peers, Ecopro is likely to deal directly with finished car manufacturers in the future. Currently, Samsung SDI and SK On are key clients.

The Ecopro Group has set an ambitious sales target of 10 trillion won ($7.7 billion) for this year. Despite potential fluctuations in material prices and exchange rates, industry analysts expect the group to meet this target comfortably, aided by growing orders for cathode materials amid a boom in battery production.

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